Sturgeon Faces Prestwick Plan Quiz

Proposals to turn Prestwick Airport into a launchpad to outer space and address a multi-million pound maintenance backlog are expected to be addressed by the Deputy First Minister today.

Nicola Sturgeon will appear before Holyrood's Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee to answer questions on the Scottish Government's vision for the future of the ageing publicly-owned facility.

The vision, published last month, recommended that Prestwick Airport should maintain its status as a gateway to Glasgow and work towards becoming the UK's first spaceport.

It also highlighted challenges including aged infrastructure, a maintenance backlog, a railway station in need of a £4.75 million refurbishment, the need for a new primary radar within the next five years, Ryanair's expansion into Glasgow Airport and a "disproportionate'' air passenger duty burden.

Committee convener Maureen Watt said: "As a committee, it is vital that we scrutinise the strategy and vision that the Scottish Government has for the future of the airport.

"Whilst we understand there are no quick fixes, we are keen to hear the Scottish Government's plans for revitalising the airport and securing its future.''

Scottish Labour infrastructure spokesman James Kelly said it is Ms Sturgeon's "last chance to deliver answers on Prestwick'' before she is appointed First Minsister.

"In just over a week Nicola Sturgeon will be First Minister, as it stands she will be handing over a total mess to her successor in the infrastructure brief,'' he said.

"Prestwick Airport is hugely important to the west of Scotland economy.

"It supports thousands of jobs and is worth millions to Ayrshire. That workers have been kept in the dark for over a year is completely unacceptable.

"The Scottish Government promised a clear business plan to take Prestwick forward and create jobs. Nearly a year later all we see is millions being poured into the airport without a plan to get Prestwick thriving again.

"In the time that Prestwick's future has been in the Scottish Government's hands we have seen airlines pull out of the airport and workers threatened with redundancy. This cannot go on.

"The workers at Prestwick Airport deserve much better than this. It is time for a clear plan. Tomorrow is Nicola Sturgeon's last chance to answer how she plans to protect jobs in Ayrshire.''